Henrik stenson

Stenson leads Valspar Championship betting despite illness

2017-03-09
Swede battling to overcome stomach bug.

Open champion Henrik Stenson is the 10/1 favourite to win this week’s Valspar Championship despite having not yet fully recovered from the stomach virus which forced him out of the WGC-Mexico Championship.

Stenson was one of several players to be taken ill in Mexico City and withdrew from the £7.9million event after 12 holes of his opening round at Chapultepec Golf Club.

But the 41-year-old Swede is looking forward to returning to action at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida, where he was fourth in 2015 - a shot outside the three-man play-off - and 11th last year.

“It's good to be back,” said the world number six, who has finished runner-up three times and recorded three other top-nine finishes in his last six completed events.

“It's a golf course I think suits my game pretty well as the two previous visits have shown, and I hope I can be there on Sunday afternoon with a chance to win.

“It's a second-shot golf course. It's the five, six, seven, eight irons into the greens, and when I'm hitting it well, then that's the strong part of my game. So it's going to set up a lot of birdie chances.

“It's the beginning of a stretch of tournaments leading into Augusta, so we want to try to get to the Masters in the right direction with where the game is at and what we need to keep on working on leading into the first major of the year.”

Speaking about his health, Stenson added: “I'm not 100 per cent. If you have a stomach upset or bug, it takes a little while to complete. I'm eating some probiotics, and we can still feel a little rumbling here and there. I don't think we need to go into more details than that.”

Stenson will play the first two rounds alongside defending champion Charl Schwartzel and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, with Stenson 5/4 to shoot the best score in the first round.

Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed is 21/20 to record the best score of his group on day one which also features 2018 US captain Jim Furyk (7/4) and Ernie Els (33/10). Reed is 33/1 for the title, while Stenson’s biggest rivals are expected to be Justin Thomas (11/1), Ryan Moore (25/1) and Gary Woodland (25/1).